COMMUNITY

Our people have a commitment to the places in which they live and work.

We understand the concerns of rural communities and want to continue to support them. We have produced a community engagement plan outlining our collaborative approach and desire for a positive impact.

COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT PLAN

Many of the decisions we make as a business have an impact on the communities of which we are part.

Effective and proportionate community engagement is crucial to ensuring that Buccleuch and the communities we work within can maintain an open, honest, and constructive dialogue. Our Community Engagement Plan sets out our vision for 2030, based on the protocol and route map issued by the Scottish Land Commission.

COMMUNITY PROJECTS

As part of our commitment to community engagement, we have been actively involved with a number of notable community projects.

Whether welcoming young people to our gardens, transforming neglected woodland, or engaging with local community councils on sustainable land-use decisions, we do our utmost to put people first.

Kirkhope Steading

Kirkhope Steading: community purchase

Buccleuch were delighted to support the community purchase of a former farm steading by Ettrick and Yarrow Community Development Company (EYCDC), in June 2020.

Originally considered for sale on the open market, EYCDC is now transforming the old Kirkhope Farm steading into five affordable houses and five workshop units. It will also provide communal garden space and let out the small adjacent paddock.

Acutely aware of the lack of affordable housing within the community, EYCDC approached Buccleuch, expressing an interest in the steading and asking if it would be possible for any marketing to be postponed, allowing EYCDC time to investigate funding options. Both parties agreed to postpone marketing in May 2018.

The community group were granted £285,000 from the Scottish Land Fund towards the steading purchase and some start-up costs for the first year. After some Covid-19 related hold ups, the group become the proud owners on Wednesday 3rd June 2020.

As the transfer took place, Vicky Davidson project manager at EYCDC said: ‘Taking ownership is a huge milestone for us and something we’ve been working towards for several years. We want to thank Buccleuch Estates for giving us the first option on the site and then for their patience while we raised the funds. We also want to thank the Scottish Land Fund not just for the funding but also for their support and advice at every step of the way.’

Benny Higgins, executive chairman of Buccleuch said: ‘The level of cooperation between EYCDC and Buccleuch has been exceptional, and we look forward to seeing their plans coming to fruition over the coming months.

‘We are pleased that we have been able to support this community purchase, which will allow for more affordable housing within the valleys. We are all aware of some of the challenges facing the South of Scotland and the need for young families and working age individuals to have the means to remain within or move to the local area, to ensure a sustainable future for our communities.’

Hermitage Village Hall

Community celebrates Jubilee and gift of additional space at Hermitage Village Hall

At the beginning of June, the committee of Hermitage Village Hall took ownership of a 1.5-acre field from Buccleuch. The field sits adjacent to the hall and ownership will allow the committee to pursue a number of options.

Ed Morris, Estate Manager, joined villagers at the Hall for a formal hand over and Jubilee celebrations on 2nd June 2022. Speaking at the gathering, Ed commended the village hall committee for their passion, which has led to the hall becoming a hub for the local community.

Hermitage Hall was transferred to the community by Buccleuch in 1958, and the addition of the adjacent field enables the committee to proceed with their varied plans, including the installation outdoor and recreational equipment and the planting of trees to celebrate the Queen’s Green Canopy to mark the Platinum Jubilee.

LANGHOLM COMMUNITY BUY OUT

In 2016, Buccleuch took the strategic decision to reduce landholdings in line with the aim of reducing our footprint, and we began investigating the sale of 25,000 acres of land on the Borders Estate, including Langholm Moor.

Through this process, we became increasingly aware of the impact land-use decisions could have on local communities, and we sought to understand the views of those who could be directly affected and take these into consideration.

Following the guidance of the Land Commission’s Protocol on Engaging Communities in Decisions Relating to Land in 2019 we met with local community councils to let them know of the proposed sale and explore the community’s ambitions in relation to the land. The detailed feedback on our proposal made it clear that there was an appetite for community ownership, with two local community bodies expressing an interest in purchasing land.

We took these views into account, giving the interested community groups time to consider their options and undertake a fundraising campaign, before entering into negotiations for what would become the largest ever community buyout of land in southern Scotland. With plans for a nature reserve at Langholm, this is a hugely positive outcome that marks our commitment to putting people and places at the heart of decision making, demonstrating what can be achieved when communities and businesses have a common goal.

PROPEL

The former opencast coal mine at Glenmuckloch on the Queensberry Estate is home to the successful community-run energy project, known as Propel.

A first in Scotland, Glenmuckloch Community Energy Park has been designed to provide financial assistance for public groups and organisations across Upper Nithsdale, using the revenue produced by the two 100kW turbines on a site adjacent to the Glenmuckloch surface mine. In operation since 2015, the 30-meter-high turbines have the potential to generate £2.5 million over the 25-year operational life of the site.

Each year, the Propel team, comprised of S5 and S6 pupils at Sanquhar Academy, decides how to invest the profits from the turbines at for the benefit of the local area, and actively encourages local groups to make applications for funding.

COMMUNITY VOLUNTEERS

The Boughton gardens team welcomed volunteers from Moulton College for two half days a week from April to July 2021.

The team was delighted to have been able to offer work experience to young adults with additional support needs, who were a great help when it came to dividing snowdrop bulbs and re-distributing and stripping ivy from the trees.

David Cullum, Parks and Gardens Manager at Boughton said: ‘the groups have been very positive and complimentary about their experience …and are enjoying their time at Boughton alongside the opportunity to get out! All in all, a positive experience for everyone following a challenging time.’

MINI GARDENERS

Borders Estate have helped create a wonderful garden for the children at Newcastleton Primary School.

In February 2021, the Newcastleton School Partnership (NSP) approached Ed Morris, Estate Manager, to ask if Buccleuch could sponsor their project whereby they would transform neglected areas of woodland and parts of the playground into a revitalised space for the children and the community.

The estate team was keen to get involved, providing materials and helping the young people to build the fence. The end result is fantastic and the school community are over the moon – it was incredibly rewarding for Buccleuch to be involved in such a lovely project for the community.